Owner of 'miracle house' that survived Hawaii wildfires reveals how it was saved

The owners of the red-roofed ‘miracle house’ in Hawaii believe adding a new roof and cutting foliage helped it survive the devastating wildfires.

The $4 million seaside home remains unscathed as it stands alone amid the rubble of its neighbouring properties in Lahaina, on the island of Maui.

Its owners, Dora Atwater Millikin and her husband Dudley Long Millikin III, made a few updates to the house and garden before the the fires tore through their community, destroying buildings and killing dozens of people.

The changes were not made to fireproof the 100-year-old property, Ms Atwater Millikin explained to the LA Times, but ultimately they appeared to serve that purpose.

She said she and her husband replaced an asphalt roof with a heavy-gauge metal one and cut down foliage surrounding the home to reduce the risk of termites spreading to it.

‘When all this [the fires] was happening, there were pieces of wood – six, 12 inches long – that were on fire and just almost floating through the air with the wind and everything,’ Ms Atwater Millikin said.

‘They would hit people’s roofs, and if it was an asphalt roof, it would catch on fire. And otherwise, they would fall off the road and then ignite the foliage around the house.’

Roofs are considered the main contributing factor to a property’s flammability, because they have the largest surface area upon which embers can land.

The couple had been visiting family in Massachusetts when the fire started on August 8.

Authorities called them the following day to say their home survived and it has since been dubbed the ‘miracle house’.

Ms Atwater Millikin and Mr Long Millikin III have lived on Maui for almost 10 years, and bought the house about three years ago. She is a painter and he is a recently retired portfolio manager. 

So far the death toll on the island stands at 115, but officials expect the final number of people killed to be around 500, reports the MailOnline. Some 1,000 people are currently missing.

More than 2,200 buildings in Lahaina were destroyed in the fire.

US President Joe Biden is set to visit Maui today, after some complaints – mainly from Republicans – over his initial public silence following the fire.

When he did speak, he appeared to forget the name of the island at one point.

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